If your dog suffers from anxiety or depression, the holidays can be particularly stressful for it, especially with so many people coming and going. The cold weather can also add to the emotional downturn. This is particularly true if the weather has prevented you from spending much time outdoors with your dog. Here are four steps you can take to help your dog overcome the holiday blues.
Add Some Playtime
If the holidays are getting to your dog, increase their playtime. Even if it's too cold to romp around outside, you can still get them involved in some indoor play. Clear an area of the house and toss a ball around. Anything to get your dog actively involved in play will help them overcome their emotional lows.
Don't Reward Moodiness
If your dog is outwardly moody, don't reward it. You might be inadvertently reinforcing their depression. Instead of talking in a sad tone of voice, keep your tone upbeat. It's okay to offer them a treat when they're feeling down, but remain upbeat and enthusiastic when doing so. Your dog will react to the positive behavior, which will help improve their mood.
Include Them in the Fun
It can be easy to overlook your dog when you have guests coming in and out of your home. However, if your dog is used to being the center of attention, suddenly being overlooked can be overwhelming and can increase the feelings of sadness your pet is experiencing. When your guests arrive, be sure to include your dog in the moment. Encourage your guests to do the same. Acknowledging your dog's presence in the group will go a long way towards alleviating those feelings of depression and anxiety.
Talk to the Vet
It's not uncommon for dogs to suffer from occasional bouts of depression and anxiety. However, if your dog is experiencing symptoms that are severe—such as a lack of appetite or lethargy, you need to speak to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your dog may be suffering from clinical depression, or a serious medical condition such as thyroid disease or heart worms, which can cause lethargy and loss of appetite.
The holidays are coming. It's time to keep an eye on your dogs' emotional well-being. If your dog appears sad or moody, use the tips provided here to alleviate the symptoms. If your dog continues to exhibit signs of depression, be sure to consult with your veterinarian.